Courtship? Are We Talking 1880?!

When it comes to finding a mate, there immediately arises much controversy as to how you should go about it.  Some suggest you go out and try out every person like a bathing suit until you find one that ‘fits’; others suggest that you don’t interact with the opposite sex at all, but let God and the head of the family decide your spouse.  And yet others decide that it is combination of all the above.  Then there are the suggestions of Aunt Charlotte and Uncle Bob, and the advice of friends and enemies, and the ill-resulting attempts of the church lady who wants to see you wed by the end of the year.  What method is best?

The one aspect that I completely advocate is waiting till eighteen to engage in any relationship, no matter what your method.  High school relationships are destructive emotionally and often physically as well.  Being old enough for commitment is a necessary step preceding anything else.

So say a young man has decided to approach a young woman.  He likes her better than any other girl, and he wants to get to know her better — and not just as a ‘friend’.  But he isn’t ready to drop to a knee just yet.  There are many things he doesn’t know about her.  So what does he do? 

First,  Talk to her father.  No matter how you go about this, no matter if you date, court, betroth or whatever — TALK TO THE FATHER.  He is the authority over his daughter, her protector and her guide.  If a man wants to win her as his own, he must first ask the current ‘owner’!  In the discussion with her father, the young man will clarify his intentions.  This step eliminates those guys who are in it for ‘fun’.  They have no intentions to clarify — why should they talk to Dad?  Also during this meeting, the young man will be told how the family goes about the whole relationship.

This is where the relationship ‘begins’, and this is where we will explore what the three major options are for stepping into the waters of love.  First: Dating.  Everybody dates.  The problem with it even after high school is that stereotypical dating involves two people either with their peers or alone, unaccountable, and without any future commitment in mind.  Why do you think so few girls maintain their virginity?  It is because they are alone, unprotected, and cannot withstand the temptation.  Plenty of Christian families allow dating — it is actually the norm.  But that doesn’t make it the best choice.  Often Dad has no clue who his daughter is with except for a short glimpse when the boy is on the front porch.  So what are the alternatives?

Another group, primarily made up of homeschool families, advocates ‘betrothal’, which at first glance can be confused with courtship.  However, betrothal is totally different.  This system involves the young man coming into the relationship with the express intention to marry the girl.  He has no escape — he cannot back out of the commitment.  He begins the relationship almost by engagement, and most of his interaction is with the father, and less with the girl herself.  This method is neither realistic nor effective.  The couple do not really know each other, and the young man is left ‘dating the Dad’ in order to reach the daughter. 

The third method is courtship, and while it is under one section, it differs with each family.  I will detail my own family’s method here as an example.  I feel, as an 18 year old woman, that I have and will have much freedom in my relationships with young men.  I think that the man who wants to ‘get to know me’ will also have a lot of freedom.  He will not feel pressured into marriage, but he won’t be able to be vague about his intentions either. 

Courtship is like dating, where a couple does things together, talks, and gets to know eachother and their respective families.  The difference is that the couple does things in the open, with groups, or with family.  They do not find the need to ‘be alone’, knowing that temptation is often right behind them in that time.  Also, courtship works toward an end.  The goal, eventually, is to culminate the relationship in marriage.  People don’t get to play games.  There is no deceit or falsity, because anything that might be gained by being so can’t be gained in daylight. 

Obviously, this is the method I advocate.  Now, some people may be alarmed by the fact that I have ‘gone out’ with young men when I am committed to courtship.  I will tell you why.  First, I am eighteen and graduated.  I have new responsiblities and new privileges.  Second, I had an understanding with these young men that we were ‘just friends’.  Thirdly, I cleared the whole event with my parents.  So for two friends to go out, eat at a bistro, and look at an art gallery in broad daylight with other people present gives 1) accountability; 2) preserves purity; and 3) maintains friendship.  These young men were friends who my father knew and who I knew did not have deeper intentions.

A choke hold on a relationship will kill it.  There must be some trust, some freedom, or the couple will become a greenhouse plant that dies when real weather rolls in.  But by the same token, there must be adult supervision and guidance.  Couples are still young.  There must be accountability. 

To some of my readers this may come as a complete shock.  Perhaps you never considered the problems with dating and are less than convinced.  For those of you who are still doubting, I suggest reading “When God Writes Your Love Story” by Eric and Leslie Ludy.  Also, evaluate your motives:  would accountability grate on you?  If so, what are you doing now that you couldn’t do with parents or adults present? 

Think about these methods and make sure that you and your family have firmly established the method you choose for relationships after high school.  That day will come quickly.  Be prepared!


One Response

  1. Great concepts, thanks I am in a courtship right now and am a firm believer in it : )
    I thinks its safer and to honest more fun to have people enjoy with you what God has brought together : )

    Here is my story/with pictures;

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